Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 4-5

It’s completely my fault that picks for Thursday night’s game between Niagara and Penn State weren’t posted. I have nothing to gain by telling you that Drew Claussen picked the Nittany Lions by a score of 5-2, because he’s going to take a win for that game and I’m going to take one in the loss column for not having posted — although I’d have picked Penn State and I’m not picking against the Nittany Lions until they lose.

Here’s where Drew and I stand not counting Thursday’s game, which I’ll include in next week’s picks blog totals.

Last week

Drew: 6-4-1 (.591)
Paula: 7-3-1 (.682)


Drew: 18-15-5 (.539)
Paula: 21-12-5 (.618)

This week

All six B1G teams are in action this weekend. The Niagara-Penn State series concludes Friday night. Michigan plays a single game against Arizona State Friday night. The other four series are Friday-Saturday. All times are local.

No. 17 Michigan at Arizona State

Drew: You have to give Arizona State credit. The Sun Devils are playing a very tough schedule to start the season. Michigan needs a pick-me-up after last weekend and heading to the desert gives the Wolverines a great opportunity to pick up a win. I think the Wolverines will head back north with a victory.

Paula: Arizona State has a single win this season, having beaten Air Force Oct. 16. Since then, the Sun Devils have lost four in a row, outscored by opponents 24-5. Last weekend, the Wolverines lost road games to Vermont and Dartmouth. I agree that Michigan wins this one, but I don’t know that it will be that lopsided. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. Friday night at Gila River Arena, and is broadcast by Pac-12 Networks.

Drew’s pick: Michigan 6-1.
Paula’s pick: Michigan 4-2.

Michigan Tech at Michigan State

Drew: The Spartans picked up their first win last weekend, but they welcome a more formidable opponent this weekend. Michigan Tech is coming off of a sweep of Northern Michigan last weekend and it really needs these nonconference wins, so I see the Huskies coming out strong and getting the road sweep.

Paula: The Huskies lead this all-time series 82-75-4 and were 2-0-1 against the Spartans last season, defeating and tying Michigan State in Munn Ice Arena Nov. 21-22 and beating the Spartans in the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament Dec. 29, a 3-2 overtime game. In fact, the last five meetings between the teams have gone to OT. I thought the Spartans played the Pioneers really tough two weeks ago, so I see Michigan State earning a win this weekend. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights in Munn, and both games are carried by Comcast.

Drew’s picks: Michigan Tech 3-1, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 3-2, Michigan Tech 3-2.

Niagara at No. 14 Penn State

Drew: Penn State has played well this year and the Nittany Lions are getting good goaltending from Peyton Jones. Niagara is 0-5-2 and got run out of the building by Ohio State last weekend. This seems like a pretty cut-and-dry sweep for the Nittany Lions. I apologize in advance for cursing it.

Paula: As I said at the start of the blog, I didn’t post in time for Thursday night’s game, but that shouldn’t count against Drew and it doesn’t change that he and I both picked the Nittany Lions to sweep the weekend. Friday’s game at Pegula begins at 7:00 p.m.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 5-2, 6-2.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 4-3, 5-2.

No. 3 North Dakota at No. 13 Minnesota

Drew: I just really hope that this series produces two entertaining games and that it still somewhat resembles what it was when both schools were in the WCHA and played each other every season. Will it be the same? Probably not, but it will only take one questionable hit to restore the hate between these two teams and fan bases. Mariucci Arena should be packed to the gills, which will be nice to see, and it should have an atmosphere that has been relatively absent since the 2012-13 season. North Dakota is coming off getting swept at Minnesota-Duluth, which could be a disadvantage for the Gophers. A very motivated Fighting Hawks team will hit the ice on Friday.

Paula: The Gophers return from a challenging road trip east, having beaten Clarkson in overtime last Friday and tied St. Lawrence in OT Saturday — so the Golden Gophers will be just as motivated, especially at home, and especially against a long-time rival. Minnesota leads this all-time series 146-130-15, and Friday’s game is the first between the teams since Minnesota defeated North Dakota in a 2014 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal game. As much as the Gophers are still trying to get their bearings, I think they can pick up a win this weekend. Just watch me call it the wrong way. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:00 p.m., and the series is being televised by Fox Sports North and Fox College Sports.

Drew’s picks: North Dakota 4-3, 5-2.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, North Dakota 3-2.

Northern Michigan at Wisconsin

Drew: My first instinct says split here, but since these two teams split the opening weekend, Wisconsin has gone up and Northern Michigan has gone down. The Badgers burned me when I doubted them last weekend, so I’ll pick them to get a home sweep.

Paula: Northern Michigan is 6-4-2 against Wisconsin in the past five years, but the Badgers are 3-1-2 at home against the Wildcats in that span. Northern looks to snap a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) following home-and-home losses against Michigan Tech last weekend. I am optimistic about the Badgers this weekend, but I never discount the Wildcats. Games Friday and Saturday night begin at 7:07 p.m. in the Kohl Center.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 4-3, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, Northern Michigan 3-2.

No. 11 Ohio State vs. Robert Morris

Drew: Ohio State isn’t going to end the season undefeated, but there’s no reason to pick against the Buckeyes right now. Ohio State currently has the third-rated offense in the country, averaging 4.86 goals per game. On a side note, the Big Ten has three teams in the top five with Wisconsin averaging 4.33 goals per game and Minnesota averaging 4.17. I see the Buckeyes keeping their streak alive for another week.

Paula: There would be no reason to pick against the Buckeyes this week … were they playing anyone other than the Colonials. The Buckeyes have a 5-3-2 edge over the Colonials all-time, but Robert Morris leads this series in Columbus (3-1-0) and OSU leads the series 2-0-1 in Pittsburgh, with the Buckeyes also leading 2-0-1 at neutral sites. The Buckeyes took both games of the last home-and-home series in October 2013. Ohio State hosts Friday’s game at 7:05 p.m. in Value City Arena, while the Colonials host the rematch at 7:05 p.m. in 84 Lumber Arena.

Drew’s picks: Ohio State 5-3, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Robert Morris 3-2, Ohio State 5-1.